Cathar Council of St. Felix-de-Caraman
(now called St. St.-Felix-Lauragais)
The St. Felix Document
This Cathar council is believed to have been held in the town of St.-Felix-de-Caraman now called St.-Felix-Lauragais in c.1167 C.E. In order to settle issues of regarding the proper sanctity of Cathar Hierarchy and to settle issues arising from possible boundary disputes between different Cathar communities. Our sole source for the details or even the fact of such a council is from Guillaume Besse, who in a book he published printed a document, in Latin, supposed to be a pr\u00e9cis and summary of what happened and what was decided at said council.1 The authenticity of the document has been disputed ever since, especially since the alleged original that Besse allegedly copied has never been found since. The fact that Besse forged a number of documents in his book hasn\u2019t helped.
Despite the problems with Besse has a source the consensus seems to be that the document is authentic although possibly Besse muddled it when copying from the original.2 . In 1999 there was a conference in Nice which came down heavily on the side of the authenticity of the document and Council.3
In the month of May in the year of the Lord's incarnation 1167:4 at that the Church of Toulouse brought papa Niquinta5 to the castle of and a great multitude of the men and women of the Church of Toulouse and of the other neighbouring Churches gathered there to receive the consolamentum6 which the lord papa7 Niquinta began to administer. Afterwards Robert of Spernone, Bishop of the Church of the French,8 came with his council; and also Mark of Lombardy came with his council; and Sicard Cellarier, Bishop of the Church of Albi, came with, his council, and Bernard the Catalan came with the council of the church of Carcassonne; and the council of the Church of Agen was also present. And since they were all gathered there in such numbers, the men of the Church of Toulouse wished to have a bishop, and chose Bernard Raymond; and likewise Bernard the Catalan and the Church of Carcassonne, being requested and required to do so by the Church of Toulouse, and on the advice and with the agreement and permission of the lord Sicard Cellarier, chose Gerald Mercier; and the men of Agen chose Raymond de Casals. After that Robert d' Espernone received the consolamentum and was consecrated bishop by the lord papa Niquinta, so that he might be Bishop of the Church of the French; likewise Sicard Cellarier received the consolamentum and was consecrated bishop, so that he might be Bishop of the Church of Albi. In the same way Mark received the consolamentum and was consecrated bishop, so that he might be Bishop of the Church of Lombardy; likewise Bernard Raymond received the consolamentum and was consecrated bishop, so that he might be bishop of the Church of Toulouse; and likewise Gerald Mercier received the consolamentum and was consecrated bishop, so that he might be Bishop of the Church of Carcassonne; likewise Raymond de Casals received the consolamentum and was consecrated bishop, so that he might be Bishop of the Church of Agen.
After this papa Niquinta addressed the Church of Toulouse: \u201cYou have asked me to tell you whether the customs of the primitive Churches were burdensome or light, and so let me tell you that the seven Churches of Asia9 were separated from each other by boundaries, and as a result none of them did anything to the detriment of any of the others. And the Churches of Rome and Dragometia and Melenguia and Bulgaria and Dalmatia10 are separated by boundaries from each other and none of them does anything to the detriment of any of the others, and so they are at peace with each other. You should do the same\u201d11
The Church of Toulouse chooses Bernard Raimond, Guillaume Garsias, Ermengaud de Forest, Raimond de Baimiac, Guilabert de Bonvilar, Bernard Guilhem Contor, Bernard Guilhem Bonnerville and Bertrand d'Avignont, to define its territory.
The Church of Carcassonne chooses Guiraud Mercier, Bernard Cathala, Gregoire, Pierre Caldermas, Raimond Pons, Bertrand de Mouly, Martin de la Salle et Raimond Guibert, as divisors of the church of Carcassonne.
So being joined together in council and having deliberated, they said that Church of Toulouse and Church of Carcassonne would be divided up according to the [Catholic] bishoprics.
So that the bishopric of Toulouse and archbishopric of Narbonne are separated in two places, with the bishopric of Carcassonne at St. Pons were the mountain, comes between the castle of Cabaret and that of Hautpoul, to the boundary between the castles of Sissac and of Verdun, passes between Montreal and Fanjeaux the boundary between the other Bishoprics, similarly, at the boundary of Razes just as far as Lerida: that is the territory that is in the care and administration of the church of Toulouse.
The church of Carcassonne as herein created has in its capacity and administration all the Bishopric of Carcassonne and Archbishopric of Narbonne and the remainder of the territories boundaries are right to the sea as far as Lerida
So That these churches are given boundaries as been said above, so that they will have peace and concord between them and none will do anything against the rights of the other.
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